Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 14 River Falls

By Isaiah Glidden, Josh Fields, & Andy Sroka
PBR Wisconsin Staff

The Wisconsin high school baseball season kicks off on March 28, opening day for regular season action under WIAA regulations. Over the next week, leading up to opening day, we’ll be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2023 spring season, touching on programs spanning all state classifications, counting down through the official PBR Wisconsin Preseason Power 25 Rankings.

Perennially, we’ve submitted a Preseason Questionnaire to high school head coaches across the entire state. Their responses have been flooding in and we’re using the detailed insight they’ve provided in our team-by-team preseason analysis. We also utilized some of the information published inside the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association's 2023 Yearbook, which is available for purchase here.

Our 2023 preseason coverage continues today.

Team: River Falls
Preseason Rank: No. 14
2022 Record: 14-10
Conference: Big Rivers
WIAA Division: 1
Head Coach: Ryan Bishop


Elijah Baker C/OF River Falls 2023 Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Eli Condon RHP/OF River Falls 2023 -
Keenan Mork RHP River Falls 2023 Notre Dame
Teddy Norman SS/RHP River Falls 2023 Wisconsin-La Crosse
Brody Rudolph RHP River Falls 2023 -
Jaren Schwantz RHP River Falls  2023 Winona State
Austin Curti OF River Falls 2024 -
Jack Manninen RHP River Falls 2024 -
Chase McQuade C/OF River Falls 2024 -
Cayden Mueller 3B/RHP River Falls 2024 -
Henry Zimmermann OF River Falls 2024 -
Auden Pankonin RHP/OF River Falls 2025 -


+ 3B Ragan Pinnow (Augustana, SD)


Keenan Mork (6/25/22)

+ RHP Keenan Mork (2023; Notre Dame commit) is set to be the Wildcats' No. 1, yet again, in his final prep season. Last year, Mork made himself known as one of the most dominant arms in the entire state after stringing together one of the most dominant seasons we have seen on the mound. Across his 46.1 innings pitched Mork tallied 85 strikeouts and pitched to an ERA of just 1.36 – and he did all of this while pitching in arguably the states most competitive conference, the Big Rivers. Because of this dominance in 2022, Mork earned a spot on our PBR Wisconsin All-State: First-Team list, while also earning the BRC’s pitcher of the year honors as well, and going into 2023 he is looking to do it again. On the mound, the righty features an overpowering fastball that we have seen up to 92 mph and this is a pitch that is delivered with funk that makes it that much harder to barrel up consistently. We have also seen him spin an aggressive slider that has earned swings-and-misses across many looks through his prep years. While what Mork did last season was nothing short of spectacular, he now will look to dominate for the Wildcats as they start their journey to the postseason. 


Auden Pankonin (3/18/23)

+ RHP/OF Auden Pankonin (2025) has created some buzz for himself throughout the offseason and he is certainly a name that will contribute to River Falls during his sophomore campaign. Currently a top-20-ranked player in the state’s 2025 class, Pankonin has made some massive gains on the bump over the offseason. Recently, our PBR Minnesota staff got the chance to see these gains in person as he ran his fastball all the way up to 88.3 mph at their Preseason All-State event, and we've heard reports of even higher velo, too. He also features a slider and a changeup that both profile as out pitches at the next-level. While it is unclear exactly how head coach Ryan Bishop will utilize the sophomore righty, Pankonin also has the chance to contribute offensively, too. 


Last year, the Wildcats went through an up-and-down season while playing within a very tough Big Rivers Conference, but they ended up making some late season noise before eventually falling to conference foe Eau Claire Memorial in a Regional matchup.

The pitching depth and talent for this Wildcat team is pretty deep and they will give them the chance to win each and every time one of them toes the rubber. Besides the aforementioned names above, River Falls brings back a large chunk of their innings from last year, roughly 70 percent. RHP/OF Eli Condon (2023) is another mid-80s arm that the Wildcats will deploy, deepening what's all of a sudden one of the most talented rotations in the region, if not the state. And Condon also returns a .333 batting average, which will be especially important to River Falls' chances to generate enough runs to support its strength as a team in its depth of arms.

Eli Condon (8/21/22)

RHP Brody Rudolph (2023) and RHP/INF Jaren Schwantz (2023; Winona State) are two other experienced arms that are expected to throw a large amount of innings throughout the season. Schwantz further bolsters the rotation as a low- to mid-80s arm and athlete.

As for the offense, they only return 37 percent of their at-bats but are looking to some names to take on bigger roles in 2023. The aforementioned Condon is the Wildcats top returning hitter, and other returning bats include MIF Teddy Norman (2023; Wisconsin-La Crosse) and C/OF Elijah Baker (2023; Wisconsin-Eau Claire) round out their returners on offense. Norman's an interesting 6-foot-2 athlete with a loose right-handed swing that we're optimistic about taking another step forward in production in his senior spring. Baker is a strong 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-handed hitter who fits a power-type profile.

Juniors OF Austin Curti (2024), RHP/OF Jack Manninen (2024) and C/OF Chase McQuade (2024) should have solid roles to play as well. Curti is a loose left-handed hitter with arm strength in the outfield. Manninen is another depth arm with low-80s velo listed at an imposing 6-foot-3, 175 pounds. McQuade has shown us bat speed and strength inside of his right-handed swing in showcase environments, including at this year's Eau Claire ID. There, McQuade averaged an exit speed of nearly 87 mph, including a 94.3 max, and he gets natural loft off his barrel – and he's also made gains defensively from behind the plate.

Chase McQuade (2/11/23)

Count 3B/RHP Cayden Mueller (2024) as yet another depth arm, and the junior also has the chance to contribute positionally as well. He's a 6-foot-2, 215-pound prospect works with a deceptive arm action that hides the ball effectively from opposing hitters, and it creates an upside fastball that should earn outs even if he hasn't made a jump in velocity yet. His innate strength should help him generate some offense from the right-handed box this spring as well. UTL Henry Zimmermann (2024) is one more junior to keep an eye on. He, too, was in attendance at the Eau Claire ID where he registered some intriguing batted ball data, and he brings a strong arm to the outfield. We also saw sophomore 1B Brooks Rivard (2025) at that same event in February, and he has a loose left-handed swing that he used to demonstrate some barrel feel with as well.


The Wildcats are always a formidable Big Rivers foe, and in a year with a ton of roster turnover on the teams that have been most competitive in recent years, like Eau Claire's North and Memorial programs, River Falls just might be built to contend for its latest BRC title, which they last won in 2019. The Wildcats return the majority of a roster that went 7-7 inside the conference, now packed with experience that's being guided by one of the very best pitchers in Wisconsin. They might need some time to gel offensively, but River Falls has the pieces to make a serious run toward Appleton as the season rolls on.

Make sure to follow @PBRWisconsin on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the 2023 season.

Find more information on the 2023 Wildcats below:

+ Team Website
+ Team Schedule
+ Team Twitter